Green Lantern: The Animated Series [2011] Season 1 part 1: Episodes 1-13

Power Rings for Everybody!

(Colors may vary; not available in all sectors.)

Green Lantern the Animated Series was a pleasant surprise, and for the most part surprisingly good. It only teased you briefly with a Green Lantern universe cliché before rocketing you away (literally) on a new adventure.

Cliche number one! The many, many trials of Hal Jordan…

The entire season in an emerald sentence: Outside of Guardian space, there are “frontier” Green Lanterns embroiled in a nasty war with vengeance driven Red Lanterns, although they are too far away to help until a friendly Guardian encourages Hal Jordan and Kilowog to steal an experimental ship run by a female AI who wants to be human (what else) and they arrive, marooned (conveniently) for the length of the season, where they make unlikely allies, encounter multiple shades of power ring, and teach the true meaning of love to an AI, a heartbroken Red Lantern, and the seriously messed-up Star Sapphires.

“Won’t someone teach me love?”

“…uh, except maybe you guys…” (Even an AI is smart enough to look for love advice anywhere but from the Star Sapphires.)

Aya the AI sounds a lot like this:

Placing the setting in a far-off region helps the producers with one Green Lantern problem. That being the literal army of Green Lanterns ready to jump in and aid our heroes if called upon. That was good, since life and death were on the line in many of the episodes. We give the show props for mature themes and scenarios that included the vengeful death of entire planets, self-sacrifice for family, lost love, …and the rather cruel affection of the Star Sapphires.

A sad, conflicted man–silhouetted by the girly lavender glow of Star Sapphires?

One Green Lantern cliché that they did not avoid was the plethora of power rings. We say this out of well-rounded general knowledge of that universe, not out of detailed comic book information. So the Green Lanterns with their green power rings are fighting Red Lanterns with their red power rings. We know that Hal Jordan’s arch enemy, Sinestro uses a yellow power ring. And from a source we cannot even guess, someone becomes a Blue Lantern. Yet there is still one entry to make our kaleidoscope complete.

We don’t even know where you came from.

Buy one power ring at full price, get two free! While supplies last. Green is almost out of stock.

The Star Sapphires are a dangerously superpowered order of women scorned by men. They are bitter, good-looking shrews with the power to transport over great distances using the power of their misguided notion of love. Oh, and of course they use purple power rings. Hal Jordan’s sometimes angry girlfriend is transported to them and turned into a scornful Star Sapphire. The order apparently believed that love entailed imprisoning their men forever in crystal, and tapping their life energy. Some of you may be able to relate.

She’s not your friend Aya. Look at her eyebrows. She’s evil!

The character art direction was un-apologetically stylized and fun, not lacking in any department. Human characters looked sufficiently manly or pretty, many of the humanoid aliens looked sufficiently–er, alien. And even the alien girls looked pretty. Ah, except for Kilowog’s new girlfriend (just imagine a female version of him) who also stupefyingly gets turned into a Star Sapphire.

Oh Hal, you’re such a smoothy.

Wait, she’s a Green Lantern too?

The art direction for settings, ships, camerawork and special effects was also handled well with no glaring faults. We felt like they showed us a lot in 13 episodes. Jam packed into them were numerous planets, multiple cultures, spaced stations and alien nasties. Oh, and space battles, lots of space battles.

With a stained glass window depiction like this, how bad could Atrocitus really be?

You may ask to what extent a green energy cannon manifestation can damage a ship of metal and energy shields. Issues like that highlight the sometimes amorphous nature of the Green Lantern’s power. It can make the drama harder to frame, so the show occasionally falls back on more solid plot devices like rings running out of power, or areas that block their energy.

Oh boy, lookout Hal. Even your girlfriend, Carol Ferris, becomes a Star Sapphire. (Although, the mask IS kinda cute.)

A fine climax, played out with impressive visual scale. We would recommend this season. It has action enough for younger viewers, and maturity enough for the rest.

Wait, the PLANET is a Green Lantern too? Who isn’t a Lantern this season?

“Oops. Did I do that?”

Check out our Green Lantern takes:

Green Lantern: First Flight [2009]

Green Lantern: Emerald Knights [2011]

Green Lantern: The Animated Series – Season 1 [2012]

Check out our other DC Comics takes:

Batman: The Brave and the Bold Season 1 part 1

Batman: The Brave and the Bold Season 1 part 2

Batman: The Brave and the Bold  Season 2

Batman: The Brave and the Bold Season 3

Batman: Under the Red Hood [2010]

Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman [2003]

Superman/Batman: Apocalypse [2010]

Superman/Batman: Public Enemies [2009]

All-Star Superman [2011]

Superman vs. The Elite [2012]

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths [2010]

Justice League: The New Frontier [2008]

Young Justice [2010] Season 1

Wonder Woman [2009]

Young Justice [2010] Season 1: 26 Episodes

Extremely Competent Teenagers

(with chips on their shoulders, …and angst)

If you thought a show called, “Young Justice,” would be about teenaged superheroes looking for their shot at the big leagues, you would be right. If you thought these sidekicks would be out to prove something to their mature counterparts, you would be right again. Finally, if you thought they would seek justice with sarcasm, attitude, and a good portion of angst, then you’re more on target than a batarang wrapped around one of Green Arrow’s bolts.

Lots o’ attitude and suspicion. We have not seen this many evil looks in continuous episodes since Merlin Season 3!

(Merlin BBC Season 3)

Uh, somebody misinformed Superboy. He decided to get in on the– expressions? Not too unstable looking…

Not the best looking take on the Watchtower we have seen. Those extra rocky bits do nothing for the view.

“Mount Justice?” Is that really its name? Why don’t we just mount a huge neon sign flashing, “Secret Good Guy Base.”

Season one in a sentence: Sidekicks yearning to stretch their wings but not yet ready for the Justice League are given their own minor-league superteam (with attitude) and a secret base in the middle of a remote mountain, while collecting kooky vehicles, defrosting a Superman clone, befriending an overly powerful Martian, and angering a bunch of major league villains, all the while learning the true meaning of friendship and the politically correct meaning of acceptance.

“You’re not ready for the big leagues. Now stop whining. Hmpf. Kids.”

Real heroes can mix it up even wounded. Young Justice reasonably portrayed Black Canary hanging with the A-Team.

Superhero teams are generally diverse by their nature, taking members from all over the world and sometimes other worlds. That adds fun and spice as long as it is done for the betterment of the show, and not heavy-handed, politically correct reasons. Jackson Hyde, the new black aqua lad benefited the show with a solid, if slightly wooden, character. (We appreciated his minimal angst.) You can decide for yourselves if the eleventh hour inclusion of Icon and his teenaged sidekick –with attitude, was done for diversity or not. It really came out of nowhere, with little foundation.)

We were not overwhelmed by the visual presentation of Young Justice’s Joker. By the way, nice hipster hair.

Three depictions we found particularly well done were Robin, Zatanna, and Lex Luthor. Robin, who we think in the past has been overdone as angry and resentful of Batman, this time was depicted smart, happy to be detective, and just a little too young to lead. Zatanna seemed a lot more powerful at the end than she did at the beginning, and was surprisingly handy in some of the larger climatic battles. Finally, Lex Luthor was so precisely just what you would want out of that character: Scheming, overconfident, more scheming, and well-dressed.

“If you’re trying to stop me, see my attorney.”

Pleasing art direction on heroes that you really never see.

We give props to season one for quality. There is nothing at all to complain about regarding the backgrounds and animation quality. The art direction was different and well done, depicting the characters in a new, less-bulky light. They were not as stylized and fun as Justice league, but 603% better looking than the hideous Justice League: The New Frontier. The youngsters were depicted teen slim, but so were the Justice League crew like Superman and Batman, where one might expect a little more meat. Still, all the hero characters were visually pleasing.

We enjoy Black Manta’s recent string of appearances. He has returned from C-tier villain obscurity. Alhough his voice did not make an impression like in Batman the Brave and the Bold, his look was cool.

(Batman the Brave and the Bold)

The voices were decent, but did not overwhelm despite some A-listers. It was a bit of a non-standard voice depiction. Honestly, some sounded a little “run-of-the-mill.” It was as if your friends all got together and skillfully dubbed it, –but still sounded more or less like average, normal people. Perhaps the voice director played it too subtle to match the plot.

We appreciate fairly well known actress Kelly Hu. She voiced Jade. Why so many villain roles Kelly? We remember your bad girl in The Librarian.

(The Librarian Series)

A well done depiction of “The Immortal Vandal Savage.” But how long must he live before he learns his lesson?

Finally, there was lots o’ conspiracy going on (perhaps too much for the sudden and somewhat flat payoff) .

For an “oh-so-secret” conspiratorial group, you are pretty detailed with your silhouettes…

Yes! An update of the ultra classic Hall of Doom from the Superfriends era.

  1. Is there a mole on the junior superteam?
  2. Who is this super shadowy group trying to stop our plucky teenagers?
  3. What family secret is Artemis hiding? (Counseling is in order.)
  4. Is Superboy into tattoos? (What is this? The 1990′s?)
  5. Are Martian teens REALLY ugly?
  6. How many golf balls are there on the moon?

Sure, so comely and carefree on the outside. What could she possibly be hiding underneath?

Five out of six of the preceding questions will be answered. Overall, Young Justice season one is slow to payoff, but entertaining along the way.

“It is Fated that you read more FortressTakes.”

Young Justice takes:

Young Justice [2010] Season 1

Young Justice [2012] Season 2

Check out our other Batman and DC Comics takes:

Batman: The Brave and the Bold Season 1 part 1

Batman: The Brave and the Bold Season 1 part 2

Batman: The Brave and the Bold  Season 2

Batman: The Brave and the Bold Season 3

Batman: Under the Red Hood [2010]

Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman [2003]

Superman/Batman: Apocalypse [2010]

Superman/Batman: Public Enemies [2009]

Green Lantern: Emerald Knights [2011]

Green Lantern: First Flight [2009]

All-Star Superman [2011]

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths [2010]

Justice League: The New Frontier [2008]

Wonder Woman [2009]


 

Star Wars: The Clone Wars [2011] Season 4: 22 Episodes

All Your Favorite Characters

(are hardly in this season)

If we may start in the movie-guy voice: “In a world– er, universe, where everything goes wrong for the good guys, and Jedi are ineffectual playthings to be outwitted, tortured, and slaughtered…”

See Anakin outwitted (not too hard in his case) by Dooku.

See Obi Wan Kenobi beat up, tortured, and enslaved. Ugh. He deserves better.

The series continued its format of filling 22 episodes with four or five multi-part arcs. It worked, allowing deeper plots and characterization than possible in one-off 20 minute episodes. This meant the choice and quality of story and writing were more important than ever. A bad writing effort could now sink three episodes at once! That’s bang for your writing buck.

Sadly, this was too often the case regarding the last couple seasons of this series. Really good visuals tied to high school writing efforts. The franchise, we must reiterate, did not do itself any favors placing the setting between Star Wars Episodes II & III. It is the darkest, most depressing era of the timeline, capped by the empire’s complete takeover in Revenge of the Sith. Anyone would be hard pressed to make a balance of episodes in that environment, much less writing interns.

Like all female TV partner interns, Ahsoka gets sent undercover in fetching outfits.

Ahsoka protects the little boy king… “I know he’s a squid, but isn’t he dreamy?”

However, the visuals continued to impress. From underwater environments to desert; daytime scenes and moody night, the visual team knew what they were doing. Considering the colossal scale of scenes thrown at them, and the number of different characters, and the tremendous amount of scene blocking, they did an entertaining job with the writing they were given.

What? Even Hutts get into the action? Nice headpiece. You playing on your X-Box or something?

The series was still seriously lacking in comeuppance. The good guys lost lives by the star destroyer loads, while the bad guys usually just lost a few machines. Bad guy leaders killed indiscriminately for episodes, only to receive no justice, or a quick end not fully satisfying the penalty for their gratuitous homicide.

Sharky here killed for three episodes with incomplete comeuppance satisfaction.

“Anti-depressants we have. Yeeass.”

What about first tier characters like Yoda and Obi Wan Kenobi? Yeah, we did not get to spend much time with them. We got episodes where C3PO somehow bumbled into being a hero spending time with boring aliens for which we cared little. Speeder loads of second tier characters interacting with whiny arc characters.

“Pay attention you must. Hardly in this season we are.”

Oh look, we got to spend three episodes with no-name characters after spending a couple with the droids as the stars… all in a row? Noble clones got their lives uselessly thrown away by a jerky, uncaring  and ultimately turncoat general. But do not worry. After thee episodes of pointless carnage lit by a 40 watt bulb, the general (and his tired plot) did get comeuppance. Well, that’s one.

(BTW, he doesn’t look evil, does he?)

“Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful (and a slaver).”

Otherwise its a whole season of traitors, slavers, criminals, and sith. The Star Wars universe is either uglier than we ever thought, or we just see the seedy underside each and every episode.

Obi-Wan finally gets a part… But he spends three episodes looking like this!?

A certain amount of action could be counted upon, often good and exciting. It was cool to see the bounty hunter Cad Bain in action again. He is a fun returning villain. His multi-episode arc was one of the better. The effects and music were quality too. However the overall feel of the season was not one that we looked forward to. We just started caring less.

The title was turned red for the supposedly super special return of the Sith…

The restoration of Darth Maul was a big deal (he was sliced in half at the end of Phantom Menace, after all). Perhaps they were getting desperate for ratings. The arc was strange, contrived, and a little unresolved. But it was interesting and the saber battles decent. Obi Wan (our favorite character in the series) and Ventress, opposites for sure, made an unusual but entirely fun team to wrap the season.

Huh? Wait a minute… Star Trek and Star Wars? When universes collide!

“Just because we teamed up, doesn’t mean we are going steady or anything.”

Check out related takes:

Star Wars: The Clone Wars [2008] Season 1

Star Wars: The Clone Wars [2009] Season 2

Star Wars: The Clone Wars [2010] Season 3

Star Wars: The Clone Wars [2011] Season 4

Wing Commander [1999]

Okay, something does not blow up every other second, but it does make for an exciting take introduction.

Wing Commander is an under-appreciated science-fiction film with slick effects and solid production values. It tried to accomplish much, and like most movies, did not hit everything aimed for. At times it touches upon poignant themes that resonate with the nature of mankind. Occasionally, it lapses into derivative moments not worthy of these higher concepts.

“What are you doing Admiral Towlyn?” — “Ruminating on poignant themes that resonate with the nature of mankind.”

It also stars Freddie Prinze Jr., who we enjoyed in the role. However, he did use this expression an awful lot.

Our patented synopsis in a sentence: Humanity, still recovering from a civil war, now face an alien cat-like (and poorly realized) enemy who after conspiring with a traitor (cut from the movie) are on the verge of destroying Earth not realizing they are about to be stopped by a fresh faced young band of hip (and good-looking)  heroes with attitude, flying skinny fighters, getting oppressed by “the man,” squeezing in some smooching, and occasionally breaking the laws of physics.

“Look Ma! I’m breakin’ the laws of physics!”

“I’m your wing commander. What? Not what you were expecting? We’re just as fabulous looking as movie archeologists.” (See Jack Hunter & Librarian takes.)

Chris Roberts, the father of the popular Wing Commander games of the 1990s, got a rare chance to realize his vision on the big screen. Did he get enough time and money to realize it fully? No. But was he bold enough, and perhaps new enough to Hollywood to include uncommon, worthwhile themes? Yes.

Chris Roberts does his cameo. (Don’t think it’s easy performing a salute in a skinny little fighter.)

Chris Roberts: “Hey, I’m gonna grab a beer, you direct this scene yourself.”

Dedication, selflessness, (occasional stupidity,) and duty are exemplified by our endangered heroes. While none of them are exactly Audie Murphy (the most decorated United States soldier of World War II), they do personify the brash, indestructibility of youth. They play off veterans of varying character and temperament who put up with their juvenile notions of fighter jock-ism.

Some early Wing Commander test footage.

Jürgen Prochnow plays a veteran of one temperament: Puckered.

Yup. Freddie Prinze Jr. really liked this expression…

There is also a Pilgrim subplot highlighting heritage and faith. This is quite the departure from modern era, faithless, counterculture garbage Hollywood often upchucks (believe us, we know). We found it to be a most pleasing foundation which gives the movie depth beyond that provided by hipster actors and quick action.

“I am not a hipster.” Tcheky Karyo (don’t ask us to pronounce it , we speak Kryptonian) did a fine job with an interesting character.

“Physics dead ahead captain!” — “Prepare to break the law!”

Young Christopher Blair, the part made famous by Mark Hamil in the later Wing Commander games, was portrayed by Freddie Prinze Jr. He was pleasantly likable.

… uh… It’s a good thing we liked Freddie Prinze Jr.’s (over)use of this expression. Now what does it remind us of. . .

Tcheky Karyo played the grizzled mentor with the mysterious past (classic; like Obi Wan Kenobi, but with 70% more grizzle). His role, like Prinze’s, was not one that pushed acting to its very experimental limit. But both hit solid notes within the material they were given, and bettered the movie.

“You young whipper snappers and your fancy armor. When I was young, all we took into battle were these cool-looking camouflage pajamas.”

Perhaps mistakenly, the movie tried to reinvent the Wing Commander franchise. This may have alienated and disappointed those familiar with it. Additionally, 20th Century Fox gave the film a bum deal, poorly marketing it because they were only its distributor, not its producer. They also bungled the release date. All these factors contributed to a rough box-office run.

Hmm. You don’t think they literally meant that it was only in theaters that one day… It would explain a lot.

Buy the toy now! Oh, wait. Never mind.

The production design was instructed to make World War II in space; they largely succeeded in an entertaining, occasionally silly way. Digital Anvil’s computer graphics and pilot displays added interesting, distinctive spice. However one area in which the visuals fell flat was the alien Kilrathi. Ugh.

Matthew Lillard takes it to the Axis powers!

Zany expressions for everyone! It’s the new rage in space.

The Kilrathi were brought to life well in the filmed game scenes, and at reasonable (though not cheap) cost. The “expensive” movie versions, however, did not even live up to that, looking horribly plastic. The producers knew it too, cutting scenes which featured them and reducing their shots to quarter-second flash cuts.

“No pictures! No pictures!”

The flight deck was a big set made from some old industrial facility. (It was later converted into a sweatshop for Twilight merchandise.)

You will enjoy computer-generated space scenes that look as good as model work, huge sets, full-sized fighter mockups, and lots of goofy expressions from likable actors.

Don’t let this happen to your Rapier.

David Arnold’s music is excellent background to scenes which often showcase the wonder and majesty of nebula colored space.

If you like science fiction, and like action, and are capable of tuning out the fair in order to enjoy the good, we suggest you try Wing Commander. Go in with no expectations, and just enjoy yourself.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars [2010] Season 3: 22 Episodes

It is hard to understand why Star Wars the Clone Wars started this season’s numbering with fifteen. Is that not a little strange? A twenty-two episode season… What happened to episodes one through fourteen? Okay, okay, this is not literally the case. However it is figuratively the case.

“Short I am, and small my part is.”

It is a tale of two seasons. One through fourteen written for undiscerning children apparently by writers whose skills were closely akin to their target audience. If they had better skills than that it is too bad they were forced into a junior high writing class box. The overall problem is still compounded by the series setting. That is right at the most depressing point in the Star Wars timeline.

These two still cannot get along. Obi Wan Kenobi and General Grievous have battled for seasons. It is one of this show’s dwindling highlights.

It is hard to explain just how badly written the first 14 episodes are. It is as though they were assignments to students in a middle school dramatic TV writing class. They tried to hit all the formulaic highs and lows, but they were more or less empty. Assignments crammed together the night before they were due. Something the interns did why the adult writers were on vacation.

How about this stereotypic goofball? It is like the show is going out of its way to create such characters.

It would not matter that much if it was only a few episodes, but it was three quarters of the season. These episodes did not prominently feature primary characters like Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker and Asoka. They did not even star secondary characters like Yoda. What about tertiary characters like clone Capt. Rex? Nope. We are not sure what comes after ‘tertiary’, but those are the characters with whom most of this season is spent. Nameless clone trooper cadets, the droids, Padme, etc., or gag -worst of all, Jar Jar Binks. Ugh.

However they did manage to write in Chewbacca. You would have to have a lizard’s brain to go hand-to-hand against a wookie.

Blockade Runners go faster because they have more engines.

We would not be so harsh if we did not know that they CAN make good episodes. Fifeteen through twenty-two were mature, entertaining, and still fun for the youngsters. However these eight episodes, the only ones of worth this season, consisted of only three multipart stories. A three-part episode with super force beings. Weird but interesting.

Apparently there is a contest at Skywalker ranch regarding who can make the ugliest Jedi master.

A three-part episode where the stars have to infiltrate a prison to free a young Capt. Tarkin. While it was predictable, and dangerous if you are not one of the stars, it was well done.

Captain Tarkin versus the bad guy checklist: Crimped brows? Check. Widow’s peak hair? Check. The world’s cheekiest cheek bones? Definitely. A subtle sneer -> Bonus. See him promoted to Grand Moff below in Star Wars a New Hope.

The final two episodes were all right. In a normal season they would rate low, however in this season they were definitely top half. Asoka is stranded on the planet with Jedi younglings. It may be one of the most contrived settings ever, but considering what happened the first three quarters of the season we cannot bring ourselves to zing it much. Except to say that Asoka was all of a sudden pretty weak without her lightsaber after kicking some serious butt all season long.

Ventress: “I told you I would kill the next person who served me a beverage with Nutra Sweet.”

Should you watch season three? Not the first 14 episodes. Perhaps if you feel we have lowered your expectations sufficiently, and for some reason you have time to spare… Well we cannot stop you, but we did warn you. As for the last eight, yeah go ahead. They did not really change the series or move any of the major arcs forward. But that is one of the show’s problems. What can they really do? We know what happens to the Jedi, we know what happens to most of the knights, the Senate, the war, the clone troopers, the stars… etc.

Obi Wan is one of the few mostly likable characters: “…Am I going to have to fight my way OUT of this series?”

Check out related takes:

Star Wars: The Clone Wars [2008] Season 1

Star Wars: The Clone Wars [2009] Season 2

Star Wars: The Clone Wars [2010] Season 3

Star Wars: The Clone Wars [2011] Season 4